Janice Henderson

Anterior Hip Replacement Patient

Jan was able to avoid surgery for years, thanks to ongoing chiropractic care and a very high pain tolerance. But it got to the point where her condition made it painful to walk, which in turn caused her to gain weight and her blood pressure to rise. With the encouragement of her husband, who is also her chiropractor and favorite dance partner, she considered hip replacement surgery. She researched techniques and doctors in Alaska and outside, and decided on the anterior approach with Dr. Kavanaugh.

"I'm kinda hoping now with this new hip I’ll be dancing on tables again. My husband and I like to ballroom dance. We’re not on Dancing With The Stars, but we really just like to dance. I started practicing the cha-cha yesterday and I thought, 'Wow! I actually moved my hips and it didn’t hurt!'

I'm very much looking forward to being able to dance some more again and walk and just do the everyday things that you take for granted. Like sleeping on my left side. It's my left hip that went — it was bone on bone — and if I rolled over it woke me up. Every night. Now I can sleep on that side all I want.

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, took a lot of aspirin. I have a husband who took great care of me. He is a chiropractor, and he had worked on me endlessly to keep me going but he said, 'You've worn out that hip.' I said, 'No I haven't.' I'm pretty stubborn.

Surgery was a very scary thought. At least it was to me.

After talking with Dr. Kavanaugh and his staff there, and looking into it more closely, particularly since after I had read about the anterior method, that is definitely what I wanted. Not all doctors were doing that.

I had the anterior approach done by Dr. Kavanaugh which is a much advanced and newer form, the healing is faster and any discomfort is much less from anything I’d read before.

I went online and wondering like many of us do that live here in Anchorage. How good are our surgeons? How up to date are they? I can tell you that Dr. Kavanaugh and his staff and the doctors at OPA, they’re great. I was very, very glad that I stayed in Anchorage and had that done. I really like my treatment there. The way they treated me prior to the surgery, they answered every question. His staff was fabulous.

RECOVERY

The surgery only took about an hour and 20 minutes by the way, which is pretty amazing to replace a hip. About three hours or four hours after the surgery, the physical therapist came to my bed and said, “Okay, now you’re getting up.” I’m like, “Didn’t I just have major surgery here? You can’t expect me to get up.” But they helped out of bed and had me walking with a walker. They put a little belt around you so the therapist can hold on to that and make sure you don't fall. I walked the halls for a while and came back, got in bed. The next day I was able to walk in the walker about twice as far...and also go up and down a few stair steps. I only spent one night in the hospital.

It required a lot of physical therapy (before and after) to help you to move correctly and get those muscles working again. What happened to me was not only did the hip wear out, but the muscles, because I couldn’t do so many things, the muscles were just not there anymore. I had to come back from that place as well as waiting for all the hip part to heal.

ADVICE

I would encourage anyone who has reached the point I did or prior to that to at least look into and consider getting some help because I just think I’ve wasted a couple of years that I could have been moving better.

Before you have the surgery, get yourself really ready for it. Don’t be under the illusion that you’re going to be able to walk out there and run upstairs the second day ‘cause you won’t, but you will eventually. Prepare yourself for that. And prepare your home. Our friends and my husband put bars in the bathrooms so I could get up and down comfortably and safely. They widened the steps coming into the house so that I could get a walker up those steps.

Clear your house so that you can walk safely around it ‘cause your first exercise is going to be to get up in your walker and walk through your own house. You need to clear the decks and get ready before you go in.

The first week or two, it’s not real good to be alone in case you fall. So I had a signup sheet, and I asked my friends, “What day you want to come babysit me?” They would bring me lunch and come stay for a few hours. That was great.

Probably the only thing I wish I would have done was that I wish I would have done it sooner. Sometimes you just gotta stop and do what's right for you."